The concept of state lies at IAS Coaching center of any meaningful political theorizing but there is no unanimity about its meaning, content and definition. It is because of such contesting notions about the state, in the heyday of the behavioural revolution in the 1960s, that David Easton substituted the word system for the state. Most often the state is understood as what it is not. A state is not government as governments change periodically and many times frequently but the state is permanent. A state is distinguished by political theorists from civil society which refers to the whole gamut of organized and permanent institutions and behavioural practices like the economy, churches, religious institutions, schools and centres of higher learning, and cultural centres, places of ordinary day to day activity of the average citizen. According to Weber, a state refers to a fixed political system and an organized community that exercises authority legitimately and authoritatively.
The word ‘state’ is derived from Latin which means a situation or state of being. Machiavelli is the first to use the term but did not define what it is. The state is used to convey a historical or philosophical idea, an eternal form of political community, which is a specifically modern phenomenon. A state is defined as a political entity that possesses people, territory, a government and sovereignty. A government is a concrete reality of the state, which is an abstraction.
Governments change about upsc exam structurally and can be removed without entailing a change in states. A government is the policy deciding body that makes, declares and enforces a law. It can exist and does exist without a state as history and anthropology reveal. An administration is a set of persons and bodies that work under the direction of government to discharge the ordinary public services. A government is the political executive while administration is the permanent executive. Furthermore, the modern state is highly differentiated, specialized and complex upholding the difference between the private and the public space. As a modern phenomenon the state develops with sovereignty as its distinguishing trait. The concept of sovereignty reinforces the public-private divide and also between one body politic and another. Concurrently with the idea of sovereignty—and partly in opposition to52 Civil Society, Political Regimes and Conflict
It grows another idea that distinguishes the state as a modern phenomenon, namely the idea that it is the people as a single entity who rightly decide and constitute the form of rule within the body-politic. This idea was carried further by the American and French Revolutions that established representative institutions and also developed the idea that the proper end of the state is primarily protection of individual rights.
A distinction is made between state and some interrelated terms like society, community, association and nation. A society, like the state, consists of people within a given territory engaged in cooperative activity but a society concerns itself with the social order while the state with the legal order.
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